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Funny pitfalls of Internet buys

Roger Welsch's first experience buying a tractor online (the Allis Model G shown above) started out as a disaster. Undaunted, he's kept on buying online.

Oh, yeah. Sure. Buying a tractor long-distance is always a good idea. I have bought tractors long-distance, so I speak with some authority. I once bought an Allis Chalmers Model G a couple thousand miles distant. The owner sent some photos, but if you think pictures don't lie, don't buy a tractor long-distance. Whoever took those photos could make The Wicked Witch of the East look like Cindy Crawford.

What's more, the seller told me that this little tractor came complete with 10 implements. The price was a little steep, but by the time you throw in almost a dozen implements. . . .

So I bought it. A buddy and I went to pick it up. Well, the tractor turned out to be not quite as pretty as she was in the photo. Curiously, the photographer somehow missed a lot of defects, including the smoke rolling out of the exhaust system.

But I closed the deal figuring there were still all those implements. Then I asked, innocent as a babe in the woods, "So, where are the implements?"

The guy pointed. I didn't see any implements. "Somewhere over behind that pile of rebar scrap?" I asked.

No. As it turned out, that pile of scrap was the implements this craftsman had welded up himself!

Roger "Once Burned/Twice Wary" Welsch doesn't make the same mistake twice. When I bought a John Deere B, I sent a buddy over to take a look for me - with a camera. Hey, you can't go wrong with photographs. Take it from me, you can go wrong if the bottom of a tractor is buried in the ground, and the top is obscured by 10-foot weeds and trees.

It's the lack of a common language that poses most of the problems for the potential long-distance buyer. For example, a potential buyer frequently misunderstands the term "shedded," as in "Used tractor for sale, always shedded." The seller means that the tractor shedded rain and snow pretty well the 40 years it was sitting outside.

"Ran when parked" is another often misunderstood phrase. Contrary to what you think, the seller means all fluids pretty much ran out when the tractor was parked behind the shed in 1947.

"Single owner" means that the owner never got married.

"One owner" means at a time.

"Excellent condition" when describing an old tractor means three or four good men can probably get all the pieces onto a trailer in a couple hours.

"Good" implies good riddance, and "fair" is used in the sense of all's fair in love and tractoring.

"Needs body work" might mean everything pretty much melted off when the barn burned around it, and "recently rebuilt" means the owner put in new spark plugs shortly after World War II.

You may want to be cautious about a seller who tells you, "Come after sundown. Use the back roads and go around the gate that says NO TRESPASSING. Turn off your lights about 1/2 mile before reaching the gate. Don't slam your doors, and be sure to bring bolt cutters. And, oh yeah - I'll need to be paid in cash."

So, am I saying you should avoid long-distance tractor buying? Not at all. I have had some pleasant surprises.

I bought an Allis WD at a fair price. When the owner delivered it, I was delighted that it was in beautiful condition. But wait, there's more.

As the seller left, he said, "You want some extra parts? I have some. $50."

Just about any parts would be worth $50, so I agreed. He showed up the next week with a trailerload of parts - sheet metal, belt drives, new crankshafts, a couple hundred pounds of parts still in their original boxes.

Frankly, it doesn't matter what you get for your money if you do things right and put together a really great hauling trip with a couple buddies. The worse the deal is, the more fun you'll have telling stories about it when you get back!

Roger Welsch's first experience buying a tractor online (the Allis Model G shown above) started out as a disaster. Undaunted, he's kept on buying online.

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